Always wear a Coast Guard approved
personal flotation device (PFD) while boating. If you don't
want to wear it for yourself, wear it for your loved ones.
Personal flotation devices are not one-size-fits-all, so make
sure everyone has the correct sized device. A PFD gives you vital
"extra minutes" to get back onboard your boat if you
happen to fall overboard. Without one, the initial gasp
reflex from cold shock, swimming failure, or hypothermia may
all take a deadly toll.
Think about how you would get
back onboard your boat if you fell in the water. Make a
loop of webbing or other "ladder" to use if you are
operating a skiff or other boat that is difficult to re-board.
Practice with your family and
friends what to do in a boating emergency. Too many Alaskans
have died in front of their children who were unable or did not
know how to respond in an emergency.
Carry a VHF radio so that you
can call for help or assist someone else in an emergency situation.
Teach everyone onboard your boat how and when to use it. Also
explain to children and adults that the radio is for a real emergency
and making a false Mayday call or hoax call could potentially
endanger someone else's life by taking vital Coast Guard resources
away from a real emergency.
Just like you'd never drive
a car while under the influence of alcohol or medication, never
boat while intoxicated. After you've enjoyed your cookout on
the beach, be sure to have a designated boat driver to safely
navigate the boat back to your homeport.
Give a float plan to your family
or friends, and discuss when to call the Coast Guard if you are
overdue. The float plan gives the Coast Guard and other rescue
agencies a place to start looking for you just in case.